What Business Can Learn From the Military

The retired four-star general overhauled communications for troops in Afghanistan. Today, he's a speaker who thinks business has a lot to learn from military management styles.

What's the Latest Development?

Retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal recently spoke at a business conference in Washington D.C. about his leadership style and what the military knows about managing a successful business. Communication, he said, is the key. "McChrystal is noted for having spent his commander's discretionary fund not on better guns, but on purchasing bandwidth so that all the nodes of his network could communicate with each other." The ex-general also spoke on etiquette, noting that the tone of communication is important. 

What's the Big Idea?

Since offering his resignation to President Obama for making some off-the-cuff remarks to Rolling Stone magazine, McChrystal has taken his leadership experience into the public sector. He recommends business leaders own their mistakes, just as he says he accepts full responsibility for his career-ending gaff. Perhaps he has learned that communication etiquette can be as important as the message itself. When writing emails, says McChrystal, it is important to explain yourself properly rather than replying with a pithy "OK". 

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